I feel a rant coming on, yet recognize ranting is not the most effective way of blogging. This being said, I will aim for a controlled rant and hope in the end some valid notion of my intention is obvious.
I have spent the last two and a half weeks speaking with students of the Toronto Catholic District School Board and their Stop the Stigma program. So let me start with this, an incredible program with such great intentions and one that needs to go viral in concept to all students, parents and teachers to help break the Stigma that imprisons those struggling to deal with mental health issues.
Although I could spend a day praising this program and another week talking about all of the great people I have met over the past few weeks and the discussions that resulted; I feel this taking on another life. I would like to share the journey this has put me on, revisiting the pain, the isolation and ultimately reaffirming the hope and happiness that is my life now.
At the end of each of my presentations I am often posed questions by students and teachers. The questions range from personal and difficult to Stanley Cup predictions, go Vancouver! However after these questions wrap up and the assembly disperses I am often left with a handful of people who have much more personal matters to discuss. The courage they show in approaching me is incredible and beyond that, the absolute honour I feel to be in a position to offer support to these people is phenomenal.
But something happens every time this moment comes, I am forced to consider with every ounce of my being how I can speak from understanding and not recovery. I have to revisit that feeling of isolation and torment. I feel my chest tighten and my throat burn with the threat of tears. It's such a welcomed invasion.
I know that seems odd. Welcoming the desperation that put me through hell for so long but it is in those moments, knowing that I am able to "feel" with an absolute solidarity the sense of helplessness that drives these people to share with me, that I am made to realize how real the hope we are in search of truly is! In the span of a question I am able to place myself in the same state that "sentenced" me for so long, a state I had embraced as my fate and something I had for a long time failed to believe I could overcome.
I guess looking in from a place of strength offers perspective, but allowing myself to sit next to despair and truly remember where the words are coming from is what inspires me the most. I am amazed by every one of you that I have been blessed to meet on this journey. You continue to push me to better myself and offer a support and understanding that I can only hope you feel in return.